Coronavirus - if you need to shield yourself at home

Last updated: 4 June 2020

The Scottish Government has sent out letters to those at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

If you've had one of these letters, these are the things you need to do:

  • stay at home and not go outside until at least 18 June - those you live with do not need to stay at home and shield, they can go out as normal
  • send your Community Health Index (CHI) number to the SMS Shielding Service - both your CHI number and the mobile number for the SMS Shielding Service are in the letter

The Scottish Government letters are only sent to those at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Any letters from your GP may advise you to take steps to keep yourself safe, but you only need to shield yourself if you've had a letter from the Scottish Government telling you this. You'll have been sent a Scottish Government letter about shielding only if you have one of these illnesses or health conditions.

Once you're signed up to the SMS Shielding Service, you'll be sent texts with the latest updates on what support you're able to get while shielding.

If you're not able to access the SMS Shielding Service or have trouble getting the support you need online, and do not have people such as family or a local network to help you, you can call a free helpline to get support. The free helpline number is 0800 111 4000 and is currently open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. This helpline number will direct you to local support from your council.

Grocery packages

If you buy online, or have someone who's able to get the food and household items you need, you should carry on getting things in this way. If you're not able to get these things, we can send you free grocery packs.

After you've signed up to the SMS Shielding Service, you'll be able to send a text to the service to ask for a free weekly grocery pack.

To get a free weekly grocery pack text 1BOX to the mobile number given in the letter. This is all you should include in the text.

If you and someone else in your household both need a grocery pack, text 2BOX instead. Only one of you needs to send the 2BOX text.

Your first pack will take up to a week to arrive from the day you send the text. After that, you'll get your free pack once a week and on the same day of the week you got your first pack.

You can stop the service at any time by texting STOPBOX to the mobile number given in the letter.

If you cannot join the SMS Shielding Service and need a free grocery pack

If you cannot join the SMS Shielding Service because you do not have a mobile phone, you can phone 0800 111 4000 to ask about free weekly grocery packs.

Support you'll be able to get in the coming weeks

You'll soon be able to get access to:

  • home delivery slots from local supermarkets for online orders, reserved only for people who are shielding
  • support with getting access to the internet, if you do not have access at the moment or need help using online services

Online orders from supermarkets

To make it easier for you to get deliveries, we've arranged for you to have access to priority delivery slots from 6 supermarket chains in Scotland.

How priority delivery slots work

After you've joined the SMS Shielding Service, you'll be sent a text asking you whether we can share your details with Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Iceland and Waitrose. We need to share your details with these supermarkets so that they can get in touch with you about priority delivery slots.

If you confirm we can share your details, and you're already signed up as an online customer with one of these supermarkets, they'll get in touch with you by email.

If you're not signed up as a customer with any of these supermarkets, we'll send you a text to let you know how to sign up with a supermarket that can deliver in your area.

If you cannot join the SMS Shielding Service and want a priority delivery slot, you can get help by calling 0800 111 400. This number is free.

Being given priority should make it easier for you to get a slot at the time you want, but we cannot guarantee you'll always get your preferred slot.

If your child is shielding, you're their parent or guardian and you confirm you want a priority delivery slot, your details will be shared with supermarkets rather than your child's so that you can get access to these slots.

Other people who live with you

Other people in your household do not have to shield themselves at home for 12 weeks. This means that if they have to leave the house to go to work, such as if they're a key worker, they can carry on doing so. However, to help keep you safe, they must follow guidance on social distancing and reducing their contact outside the home where they can.

In your home, you should:

  • minimise the time you spend with others in shared spaces (kitchen, bathroom and sitting areas) and keep any shared spaces well ventilated
  • aim to keep 2 metres away from others and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible
  • use separate towels and, if possible, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household or, if this is not possible, clean the bathroom with cleaning products after every use
  • avoid using the kitchen when others are present, take your meals back to your room to eat where possible, and ensure all kitchenware is cleaned thoroughly, using a dishwasher set to 60 degrees if you can, or in very warm, soapy water

If the rest of your household are able to follow this guidance to help keep you safe, there is no need for them to wear any special medical clothing or equipment.

We'd like to hear from you if you've been shielding

Public Health Scotland is running an online survey to find out how you feel about shielding in Scotland. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and is open until Sunday 14 June 2020.

Please note that the survey is only open for people who have had a letter from Scotland's Chief Medical Officer advising them to shield.

Complete the survey now.